Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Simon. If you would like to contribute too, please contact me.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 launched last spring, a fair while ago in mobile phone terms, but it’s still close to the bleeding edge of the market, rivaling the new Apple iPhone 4S in overall capability. The Galaxy S2 has built up a reputation as an all-round performer, being a great smartphone for web browsing and videos among other things. But how well does it hold up as a gaming platform?
Even two or three years ago, serious gamers probably had a portable console of choice – a Nintendo DS, or Sony PSP, perhaps – as well as a smartphone. Times have changed. The new smartphones – certainly including the Galaxy S2 – are at least as good, in terms of graphics and processor speed, as any dedicated portable gaming console. They have the added advantage that the games are a fraction of the price of those for consoles, with Android games typically costing a mere £2 to £5 each, compared to £20, £30 or even more for a similar game on a console.
The Galaxy S2′s processor, a blisteringly fast 1.2GHz dual-core ARM chip, uses Samsung’s own “System-on-a-chip”, incorporating a dedicated graphics GPU and a media processing engine. On benchmark tests, it’s not quite as fast as Apple’s A5 processor, as found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. Even so, the gaming community have still embraced the Galaxy S2, generally regarding it as superior to all the other Android offerings (even those using the NVIDIA Tegra 2 super-chip). It’s the best-selling smartphone in the UK, too, which means that game developers are falling over themselves to create new games specifically to take advantage of its high frame rate and generally superior performance.
As well as offering stable, fast running of bought games, the Galaxy S2 runs Flash better and more smoothly than any other smartphone. This allows you to play at least some free Flash games in the browser. Don’t expect quite the range of Flash games you could run on a desktop PC, given that most are intended for keyboard and mouse use, but certainly many of them run just fine on the Galaxy S2. Apple, of course, doesn’t offer any integration of Flash into any of its smartphones or tablets, giving the Galaxy S2 the clear advantage over iPhone here.
If you like the idea of other free gaming options, the Galaxy S2′s Game Hub offers plenty of choice. Premium (pay-for) titles are available to download through the Game Hub too, and many come with free trial options. Just beware of bandwidth, both in terms of download time and data transfer fees (when downloading over 3G), as many of the games are quite large.
Games we like
If you’re not sure which games to pick up, we recommend the ever-popular Angry Birds, as well as Words with Friends (a Scrabble variant, more or less) and the cult hit Plants vs Zombies. Racing fans should definitely check out Reckless Racing. Classic gamer favourites like Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, and Assassins Creed run just about perfectly on the Galaxy S2, too, so are well worth taking a look at.
Overall, the Galaxy S2 is probably still the best gaming smartphone on the market right now. Couple that with the more than decent camera, superb music playback, and good media capabilities, and the only reason not to pick one up might be price – but even so it’s still £100 cheaper than a new iPhone 4S. It also compares quite favourably with the price of a portable console, as soon as you want more than three or four games.
Basically, for less than the cost of a half-decent digital camera, an ordinary phone, a portable gaming device and an MP3 player, you get a smartphone that performs at least as well as most dedicated machines in all four of those areas, with the added bonus that you only have to carry one piece of electronics around rather than four.
Guest post: This article is written is by Simon who writes for the Best Mobile Contracts, the UK’s leading mobile phone comparison website where you can find a Galaxy S2 or iPhone 4S contract.